Monday, 27 May 2013

A Glamourpuss-ectomy

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (April 2008 to July 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.

(from the Kickstarter Update #159, 20 May 2013)
...If you recall, this is my month for working flat-out on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND and that's what I've been doing.  As of right now, I've got the cover for the first issue done, the inside front cover, pages 1 through 4 (new framing sequence) and I'm just now working on new pages 10 and 11.  If you have a copy of glamourpuss No.1, you can see the logistical problem by reading it.  How do I do a complete or near-complete "glamourpuss-ectomy" while leaving the History of Photorealism stuff intact?  Where's the best place to "break" for "continued next issue"?

I've decided on a near-complete as opposed to complete "glamourpuss-ectomy" since a first issue is a very different thing from a book collection which is what I started working on, mentally.  I finished page 10 this morning and knew right away EXACTLY what I wanted page 11 to look like and got that roughed in in about an hour.  GOOD sign. I think the first 11 pages read VERY smoothly now.  On the new material I'm trying to do more actual comics page narrative (which was a big complaint on glamourpuss from the beginning) and trying to figure out the best way to do that. I'm definitely getting faster.  I actually did almost ALL of page 4 in one day which I haven't been able to do for years.  Of course then it took me a little over 3 days to do page 10 -- and now I have to double back and put a more elaborate background on page 2, but I do think I'm getting this figured out.  A first issue is really all about HOW you're going to do this -- what the overall structure and look is.  Once I've got that -- and I think I'm getting that -- then it's a matter of staying locked onto that concept as a form of comics sonar.
Glamourpuss #1 (April 2008)
Art by Dave Sim
Then I have to figure out what the back of the book is going to look like and designing that.  Then at the end of the month, I have to e-mail the whole thing to IDW and get a reaction from Ted Adams and Chris Ryall, the editor-in-chief.

They've both been VERY supportive. Escape Pod Comics which is "tapped in" here read my comments a while back that I think the book needs to be in colour and me (not remembering this is the INTERNET! DUH!!!) I find out -- because Menachem faxed me -- Menachem has latched onto the IDW Twitter feed and is saying HE thinks the book should be in black and white and, you know Ted Adams HIS OWN SELF gets dragged into it. And he says HE tweets that he thinks the book should be in black-and-white (and is, I'm sure, wondering Why am I hearing this from a RETAILER instead of DAVE?). And Menachem tweets "So why does Dave say it should be in colour?" and Ted goes, "Well, we'll do whatever Dave wants."

That's VERY supportive. Unheard-of supportive, to me.

Anyone is welcome to "leak" anything I say here, but, believe me, nothing is carved in stone which is why I haven't started having any NUMBER of discussions with IDW yet.  I want to show them what I have at the end of the month and let them know all the things that I'm wondering about and theorizing about -- colour being one of them.  And I definitely want THEIR unvarnished perspective.  I'm completely out of step with comics today and they're both very much IN THE TRENCHES on a daily basis.  The last thing I need is them tip-toeing around any imagined sensitivities on my part while thinking "This isn't going to work like this, but how do we tell DAVE SIM that?"

By TELLING him.  That's why the book isn't scheduled and won't be for at least a year if not two.  I want to get this right.  And if that means starting over, that means starting over.  I'm sure IDW welcomes anyone's feedback who is interested in the project.  But it's WAY at the beginning.  I'm bringing all of YOU in on it to a degree because you are DEFINITELY the core target audience -- the ones most apt to actually go into a store and ASK for this book when it gets there.  So I want you to know that it IS being worked on on an on-going basis and where I am.  There is a real danger to everyone saying, "That's fine -- you just...DO IT...and I'll be right here ready to buy it." But if you don't go into comics stores regularly -- and a LOT of you don't go into comics stores regularly -- a year or two is an ETERNITY in the 21st century.  The odds of you even hearing that first issue is solicited drop to almost nothing in that scenario.  It's going to be one of the biggest challenges for me WITH IDW SUPPORTING ME WITH ALL THEIR RESOURCES which they've made clear is what they're planning, to figure out how to maintain interest in a book still being worked on for a period of a couple of years.  Chris wondered if they could get artwork for San Diego.  And uhhhhhh emmmm.  I don't KNOW. The danger there is being old news at the 2014 San Diego. "Hasn't that come out YET?"  Well, no. A year or two. I said that from the beginning. THAT won't register.  "That Sim. One cover a year and a couple of panels. What a schmuck."

What I'm HOPING is if I can say "Three issues in the can."  Then "four issues in the can". And sign an affidavit if necessary or have Ted and Chris swear on a stack of LOCK & KEY hardcovers (so you'd KNOW they were, like, serious, eh?).  Well, okay -- you can take THAT to this year's San Diego.

And YOU will all hear it here first: how many issues are "in the can".  Right now, almost one. I think. Subject to change.
Glamourpuss #1 (April 2008)
Art by Dave Sim
I'm really trying to be as transparent as possible. My theory is that if I say anything newsworthy (or, rather, "newsworthy") here, the news sites will pick it up.  Rich Johnston (Hi, Rich!) runs a lot of stuff at BLEEDING COOL and as far as I can determine that's where news sites see my stuff and decide if it's news.  But there is a very narrow definition of "Dave Sim" and "news".  My IDW variant covers are "news" to a degree.  People see them and seem to like them, which is good.  That's a big reason I'm doing them, now.  At first, I didn't think anyone would even notice any more than they notice anything else I do. IDW has really been playing them up big in PREVIEWS which I take as a vote of confidence.  The news sites (some of them) are running them from what I hear.  They're a LOT more relaxing than THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. So that's why I'm not JUST doing STRANGE DEATH.  I need a break every once in a while.  Win, lose or draw a cover is done in a day or two and that's it.  It's not part of this 300-page bridge I'm trying to build from both ends.  Eddie faxed me some new material and that always gets me fired up. "Oh, I HAVE to do this now! LOOK at that!" 
Glamourpuss #1 (April 2008)
Art by Dave Sim


Jim Sheridan said...

I would vote for b & w, myself. It worked mighty well for 300 issues of Cerebus...

Jeff Seiler said...

You know, one of the primary reasons I don't read much, if any, of those Marvel and DC b&w reprint books is that artwork originally meant for color printing just doesn't come off well in b&w reprints, IMHO. Knowing how well Dave does fine (FINE!) pencil and ink line work in b&w, not to mention how creatively he spots blacks, I think that he really should always be published in b&w. (Although, that having been said, I am loving the color IDW covers!)